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Lawyer Paints Frey Affair as Fling

Peterson's attorney says the extramarital relationship was not a motive for murder.

August 25, 2004|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Scott Peterson's relationship with his former girlfriend was more of a short-term fling than a lasting love affair and was not a motive for murdering his wife, his lawyer suggested in cross-examination of Amber Frey on Tuesday.

"He never told you he loved you?" defense attorney Mark Geragos asked.

"Not in those words," Frey replied.

Frey testified that she was surprised Peterson did not protest when she ended their brief relationship in February 2003. And she acknowledged that the pair had only a few dates, which Geragos characterized as mostly filled with sex and drinking.

Frey told jurors Peterson seduced her with champagne and strawberries on their first date in November 2002, just weeks before his pregnant wife disappeared on Christmas Eve. The bodies of Laci Peterson and the couple's unborn son washed up in April 2003 on the shore of San Francisco Bay.

Geragos, who concluded his two days of cross-examination Tuesday, asked whether Modesto police explained their theory that Laci Peterson might have disappeared because her husband fell in love with Frey. She told Geragos that he should ask them, not her.

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed his wife and their unborn son -- charges that could result in the death penalty -- because he wanted to be with his new girlfriend. Defense attorneys maintain that Peterson, 31, is innocent and that there is no physical evidence connecting him to the murders.

Geragos implied that the relationship between Peterson and Frey was insignificant, pointing out as an example the $30 plastic planetarium that he bought her as a Christmas gift.

Frey, a massage therapist from Fresno, went to police on Dec. 30, 2002, after discovering her boyfriend was married and that his wife was missing. At the direction of detectives, Frey secretly recorded hundreds of phone conversations with Peterson in an attempt to get a confession. Jurors heard dozens of those calls.

Geragos used Frey to emphasize that Peterson never admitted any involvement in his wife's disappearance or death, even though Modesto police monitored and guided the recorded conversations between the couple. Geragos replayed several snippets of the conversations, when Peterson repeatedly told his girlfriend that he had "nothing to hide" and that his sole focus was to find his missing wife.

"Did you find any evidence ... to prove his guilt? There was none, was there?" Geragos asked.

Frey, 29, began to respond, but Geragos interrupted.

Geragos also suggested that police told Frey that they were not getting any useful information from the conversations.

During the recorded calls, Peterson evaded answering several of Frey's questions about his wife and their marriage. But on Tuesday, Frey acknowledged that Peterson told her he had an attorney and had been advised not to talk about certain subjects. She also said Peterson did not try to stop her from going to police and did not try to hide their relationship.

Frey maintained her composure and poise while on the witness stand. Geragos, known as an aggressive attorney, treated her cordially. Legal experts watching the trial said Geragos did not want to lose jurors' respect by attacking her character.

The cross-examination of Frey did help strengthen the defense argument that Modesto police zeroed in on Peterson early without conducting a thorough investigation, lawyers said. Frey told jurors that detectives told her that Peterson was a "big suspect."

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